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tv   [untitled]    May 15, 2014 3:00pm-3:31pm PDT

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sunshine task force was oftentimes here till 11:00 to midnight. now we usually are -- i try to be more efficient because everyone is volunteering and it's a lot. we try to be out by 9 o'clock, 9:30, and then we have the second meeting and we only hear cases. we don't do that much business. we do public comment and just straight complaints, just like hear complaint, complaint, complaint. so, we might allow five. five complaints, we usually can be out by 9:00. so, that gives you -- each complaint does take a little bit of time. so, on a full task force regular meeting, we still hear about five and that, in addition with the minutes and other business of the task force and the subcommittee report, you know, we go till 9:00 or 10 o'clock. >> you know, the reason i ask and why i think it's also really important in terms of meeting efficiency, in term of the people who do have to appear before these meetings and before the task force, you know, i've heard it a many and experienced where we've had to
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be there late at night and then you lose quorum and folks cannot have the proper venue to go and appear and then we have to do this all over again. and, so, i think that for me really just looking for ways to make the meetings more efficient so that it's there as a process, also to the people who are trying to respond and actually -- not trying to hide anything, but trying to be there and do their due diligence, not for any request that has been made. >> that is absolutely what we try to do with this term. i heard about it, it would be late and we would lose a quorum. we rarely had that happen during this term because we were able to -- we were like, there is no need to put 10 cases on the agenda when we're not going to get to that and then you have all these people here and i don't think that's fair for either the respondent or the complainant. i really do think that will -- that will change a lot by trying to be more efficient and streamline that process and make it much more -- boom, boom, boom.
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>> well, we were look forward to those changes. we will be keeping an eye on that. thank you. >> thank you. >> so, ms. grant, are you not continuing? >> no, i resigned -- >> [speaker not understood]. i think just from your presentation, i can see that's going to sorely miss you. >> well, thank you. thank you so much. >> thank you for your presentation. >> thank you. >> and through the chair, if i may, i want to thank you for your service. it's a difficult task. thank you. >> thank you. >> okay. continuing on, ali. >> good afternoon, supervisors. good afternoon, supervisors. thanks for this opportunity to speak. i'll keep this brief like my colleague. i'm an independent journalist. [speaker not understood]. i make extensive use of open
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record laws, local, state, federal, including the san francisco sunshine ordinance. i use that in pieces i've published in san francisco weekly, center for investigative reporting, kqed and the importance of -- i cannot overstate the importance of the the laws in the work that journalists do and in the, you know, in the magazine for government accountability and in serving on this committee i would hope to ensure that the city of san francisco continues its tradition of transparency and make sure that the sunshine ordinance can evolve and the committee can continue to address the issues of open government and transparency in an age when technology is playing an increase and important role in government and how an institution does business [speaker not understood]. >> okay. supervisor tang? >> just any other specifics that you would hope to address? you know, i think, really, i'm
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realizing that one of my main questions for all the applicants who are not being reappointed is that, you know, how familiar with you with the sunshine ordinance, the task force itself, with the role of the body is? >> i'm quite familiar with the ordinance itself. just enthuse the course of my work, the underlying appeal at the sunshine task force, appeals, the way the body works as a mechanism to ensure that the law is functioning properly and the concerns about record requests are properly addressed. and in term of my interest in this body, i mean, i think it's critical that the law is updated and really kept abreast of the changes in government. i think one of the biggest changes that we've seen recently is the use of -- is the use of nongovernmental e-mail addresses for doing official business. and that's something that is currently -- will be on the
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ballot this year in proposition 42 and that addresses everything on a state level. on a local level it's important that communities like the sunshine ordinance keep that in mind and look at those issues as they continue to evolve. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> next person is josh wolf. >> good afternoon, supervisors. thanks for taking the time to meet with me and my fellow applicants. i moved to san francisco in 2002 and i've been a working journalist since 2003-2004. i, like ali, use sunshine -- use public records requests frequently in my work. my work appeared in the san francisco bay guardian. i'm a reporter for the public press and i'm also the editor-at-large for journalism that matters. it reports on issues in
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journalism innovation. i think that the -- in addition to that experience, i was the campaign coordinator for the ballot measure in berkeley to put forward a sunshine ordinance over there. that campaign was unfortunately unsuccessful and we weren't able to pass, but -- that sunshine ordinance, but it gave me an opportunity to get a closer look at san francisco's sunshine ordinance, the proposed ordinance in berkeley both in terms of its improvements over the existing san francisco ordinance as well as some of its flaws and draw backs and i also have the recommendation for this position from terry frank who helped write the san francisco ordinance as well as the berkeley one. >> okay. supervisor tang. >> do you have any other specific goals for what you'd like to achieve if you are appointed on the task force? and have you ever attended meetings? how familiar are you with the task force role itself in what i'm hearing from all the candidates is that you're all very familiar with and very passionate about open
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government, open transparency, but i think there is a real difference between what the role of the task force is and how efficiently you're able to hand of some of these requests. so, if you can speak to that instead. >> yeah, i have attended a couple of task force meetings. i haven't had a chance to attend too many due to a busy schedule and whatnot. and i do have a working knowledge of how the task force works and its responsibility and the reason why the sunshine ordinance itself was put into law in order to help enforce the existing state public records act as well as the brown act. in terms of the sunshine task force itself, i realize that it goes a little bit beyond the scope of the task force, but i would like to see the city government act in a more proactive way whenever possible to continue the sort of idea that sf data put forward in making data tests publicly available to make as many documents already available for people to reach out for it in order to decrease the number of
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overhead, engaging public records requests [speaker not understood] already available online that can save some time in both city resources as well as the people searching for the information and whatever role the task force can play in supporting that sort of an evolution i think would be great. i also found it very interesting how ms. grant was speaking to the positive impacts that have been in terms of mediating before disputes went to the task force itself and i think continuing that and perhaps working with the people that have frequently sought out help through the task force and identifying whether the sort of consistent problems that they've encountered can be almost mediated before they become a conflict to make sure that thing just continue to move smoother on the whole. >> thank you. next person, pixie chopra,
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chopra. am i saying the right -- pixie, p-i-x-i-e. not here. allyson washburn. okay. >> my name is allyson washburn. good afternoon, supervisors tang and yee. before i speak, i'd like to introduce karen clap ton who is a past president of the league of women voters. >> excuse me. it's your time to speak and she can speak later in public testimony. >> actually, i'm representing the league and we under the ordinance nominate a candidate for this particular seat for -- >> [speaker not understood]. go ahead. >> i'm [speaker not understood] clap ton, chief administrative law judge for the california public utilities commission. today i am speaking only in my
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capacity as a board member of the league of women voters and past president. as supervisor tang knows, because she's heard my remarks before at the spur awards when i received the award because of my commitment and the league of women voters' commitment to transparency, good government, and sunshine in both san francisco government and california state government. we are very committed as the league to making sure that all aspects of the ordinance are fully enforced. it's incumbent on the board of supervisors to make sure that the task force is fully staffed at all times. as ms. grant earlier mentioned
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and when she described the failure of the board of supervisors to timely appoint a disabled member as required by ordinance. we have nominated allyson washburn, who is a former board member of the league of women voters of san francisco, and has served on the task force for at least two terms, three terms now. she is the best candidate for this positions as a representative of the league of women voters. the league of women voters has a seat on the task force because we are a nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy in government.
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we also study issues before taking any positions on them and we do not ever endorse candidates for public office. as a result, there have been polls about voter approval that unlike most politicians, including the members of the board of supervisors, we usually get around 75% voter approval ratings. it is extremely important for us to make sure that we entrust such an important task to an individual who is trustworthy, who is nonpartisan and committed to the principles of nonpartisanship and who is devoted to making sure that our government is transparent. now, san francisco has come a
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long way in the last decade, especially in the last five years in terms of what's available on the website so that it's not a mysterious process to get information on the workings of government. it's also a boon to have the meeting televised. there is more work to be done as witnessed by the complaints that ms. grant just described. so, without further ado, we are happy to nominate allyson washburn as the candidate from the league of women voters for seat 5. thank you. >> and i'd like to talk briefly about myself personally and then also about my tenure on the task force. i moved to san francisco with
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my young son and daughter 30 years ago almost exactly, and within a year's time, i joined the league of women voters because i wanted to become active in my city that was going to be my hometown. and early on i became a member of the board of directors. i was president for two terms in the mid '90s. i've also served on the boards of the ywca of san francisco and marin. i was president of that board. most recently i served on the board of the elder women's league and served as president of that board as well. sick years ago i was appointed to the sunshine ordinance task force. ~ six i was very interested in serving because i had been a part, as a member of the league of women voters, in supporting the ordinance. and i also have a long-standing
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interest in open government and in good government all together. i have never worked in partisan san francisco politics. my interest has really been in good governments. i have an excellent attendance record on the task force when we were accustomed to having meetings till 11, 12 at night, i was there to the bitter end. i support a lot of what former chair grant instituted and i think we should continue some of these efforts to efficiently run our meetings, to mediate matters before they come to the full task force. we do have a backlog still. i think it's incumbent on us to be as efficient as possible
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because if we're not, that just delays fairness and justice for those who come before us. so, i'm happy to entertain any questions you might have for me. >> supervisor tang. >> thank you, ms. washburn, for your service. and as you indicated, your good attendance on the task force. something that i will be asking all the applicants here for reappointment is one of the issues that has come about is that, as you know, the task force is assigned a staff attorney who works with the task force. and there have been instances where members of the task force may not have agreed with some of the recommendations or advice of the city attorney and i wanted to get a better understanding of, you know, the importance that you feel of the role the city attorney that is staffed at the sunshine task force and guiding the rules set forth in the city. >> well, we had several staff
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or deputy city attorneyses working for the task force. and we frequently ask questions of the attorney. and the attorney also prepares materials for us before hand, which are invaluable in doing our homework for the meetings. and i would say we, you know, mostly -- we consider the deputy city attorney's advice certainly and most often i would say follow it. but very often it's not -- the advice is not -- doesn't have the standing of a legal opinion, you know. it's very often, you know, this is what i tend to think should happen or this is a gray area or, you know, really kind of throwing it back at us. this is how i'm looking at this. this is what you might do. we also -- and very often a
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frustration we've had is because of budgetary constraints. that deputy city attorney is not always able to stay for full meetings. i've been chairing the compliance amendment committee and we never had the deputy city attorney there. so, we often don't have the benefit of that person. one problem we've had for the past two years is we have not had our own -- seat number 1 has not been filled so we have not had the benefit of our own member attorney. his opinions would also be important for us nonlawyers to hear. although we did have former member [speaker not understood] was an attorney, too, and it was often -- he wasn't in seat 1. he was in another seat, but he was very important as well. >> i guess one of the questions i have is a simple one. what keeps you motivated for
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this? >> well, first of all, this is -- somebody mentioned, i think former chair grant, there is a very steep learning curve here. so, for the first year or so, i really was constantly just having to do my homework, to listen to members who had vastly more experience than i did, and it took me a good couple of years to really feel that i knew what i was doing in most respects. so, then, after investing two years, of course, i wanted to put this knowledge to use. then the past two years i've done what's called a hold over member because i was not officially reappointed and i stuck by this because i saw the league supported me on this. but it's important for a body like this to have some institutional memory. and at that point i was [speaker not understood] had been serving quite a while. i thought i was able to be
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helpful to newer members. and now i, you know, for the next two years, i decided i wanted to be reappointed because, again, i feel that i have, i have the institutional memory. i understand the ordinance at a very deep level. i see -- i've come to see some of the ambiguities in the ordinance that our city attorney is finding, other attorneys are finding. so, this is a way i can make a contribution to the city that is my home and that i love and meetings tend to be shorter now. it isn't a burden as it has been. so, i would -- i feel like i have another good two years in me and i would greatly appreciate a reappointment. thank you so much. >> thank you. next person, david pilpel.
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>> good afternoon, david pilpel. i think you both know my background pretty well. i've been involved in city government for going on 30 years since i was a teenager. in a variety of agencies, all kinds of places. i have served on the task force. i'm on my third nonconsecutive tour of duty, as it were. i've served for 10-1/2 years out of the 20 years that the task force has been in existence. i was involved at the time when the ordinance was drafted, when the prop g was on the ballot in 1999. and a number of the amendments that were made in the late '90s before prop g was on the ballot. i certainly support meaningful public participation and open government. i look for practical solutions with city agencies and [speaker not understood] and others. i know that the -- i know very well both that the task force is not perfect and that i'm not
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perfect and that we can all do better and try to make this work a little better. i have said a number of times that i'm interested in fewer complaints and i'm actually less interested in our resolution of complaints and i would rather that we be more proactive. we tend to be incredibly reactive in dealing with this work load, as you've heard. i would like us to be more involved in legislation that comes before the board of supervisors and sacramento and really do more of the thing that i've taken the time to do, education outreach and training. the committee that i've chaired the last few years, to work with the public and with departments to get them to comply and understand the laws and how they work rather than being more punitive and dealing with enforcement. i have proposed changes to the bylaws to address some of the concerns that i think were referenced and changes to
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procedures to try to focus on the things that matter rather than all of the complaints that we receive to exercise more discretion on those thing that are important. ultimately, i think we're going to need to rewrite portionses of the ordinance. there are things that are unclear and inconsistent. it's been 14-1/2 years since this was on the ballot and we've been trying to live with it and it's difficult, as we all know. and just to conclude, i have sat in seat 6 and 7 since the task force was reorganized. so, i think i meet the consumer advocacy test. i would also meet the general public test for seats 8 through 11. i know that i can be difficult and very tenacious in how i approach things and not everyone appreciates that. i do try to be respectful in
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how i go about thing even when i disagree with others. and i think it would really be great if the entire process could be more respectful. there is a lot of unhappiness amongst the members with members of the public, with representatives from city departments. it's -- you know, we're trying to put a good face on it right now, but it's not always a very positive experience for anyone involved and i'm sure when we get to public comment today we're going to hear some of that. unfortunately, [speaker not understood]. so, if you support public comment and you support the right of others to say what they will about you and i've developed thick skin. and i'm being honest about that. i'm happy to answer questions you have. >> sure, if you're up for reappointment, i'm going to ask the same questions about the staff attorney complying to the task force, how much do you
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value their role in conjunction with the task force itself and the members and in terms of their opinions that they might offer, any advice, et cetera? >> absolutely. i certainly do, i value their opinions. i have talked to staff attorney at meetings, outside meetings. i think i understand very fully the role of the city attorney both under the ordinance and under the charter, section 6.102, et cetera. we are subject to the charter in terms of board and commission and the voting requirements. i think i understand very clearly the roles of the various actors in city government. and, so, if the city attorney says we can or cannot do something, i certainly respect that. i think that if that actually suggests another line of discussion, but we could do more -- i think it was pointed out we could do more internally with training examine in
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particular on due process. there was one instance last month where a referral we made to the ethics commission was sent back to the task force because we failed to name the right person. that may happen again next month. it's not just finding a violation where that's appropriate, but it's also finding the right person and having the right process to get there. and the task force, in my opinion, has not always understood where that due process attaches. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> um-hm. samuel mccormick. >> hi there. my name is samuel mccormick. i'm [speaker not understood] at san francisco state university. i'm happy to be here and honestly a little bit concerned about all the comments about the sunshine i've heard up to this point. but fundamentally i'm here because i agree with the basic
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principles of this ordinance. open government and transparency, citizen access to and participation in local government and fundamentally, i read both of these a tenets of democracy, participatory deliberative democracy. on principle the commission sounds great. one of the reasons why i think i'm qualified for this is that i have been thinking, writing, and teaching about these principles for well over a decade now. my first book was on local citizens interacting with public officials, won two national book awards. and the book i'm working on right now is on local citizen participation in public meetings. now, i don't know as much as people who are committed to and have already been on this commission before. but what i do bring to the table is a serious amount of fresh ideas and definitely some expertise on some of these topics. but i'm not just a professor.
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i'm also a committed servant of my profession, my community, and my campus. i serve on seat 1 of the graffiti advisory board appointed by eric mar. i'm copy editor, assistant copy editor for the richmond review in sunset beacon. i have way more professional service to national organizations, journalism, publishers than i care to admit. at the level of the campus and departmental committee work, i've served on regulations, review committees, grievance committees, assessment committees, strategic planning committees, budget committees. i've been on almost every committee that's out there and i've been on several committees that have needed some of the things that it sounds like the sunshine ordinance task force could also benefit from. and specific things that i have in mind for that would be meeting efficiency. i liked what david was saying about being proactive. fresh ideas sound like would be very helpful moving forward.
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education outreach is obviously something that i'd be qualified for and willing to move forward with and sounds like the commission would also benefit from. increased competency and professionalism, i think that might also be something to consider here and the issue of perspectives come up on numerous occasions is something i'd be able to assist with. but every task force is different. every committee is different. and until i would be nominated and get involved, i wouldn't know exactly how i could move these issues forward. but i've done it before on other committees. if given a chance, i'd like to do it here, too. thanks. >> listening to other people's comments and you have some concerns, can you elaborate? >> well, i definitely gather just from my training as a communications scholar that there is indeed some tension between members of the commission and also, more importantly, tension between how the sunshine ordinance task force is perceived by its
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members and how it's perceived by the public. i have masters and ph.d. training in rhetorical theory and one of the things that i'm trained to do is to help with public relations and public image issues. i think that in addition to clarifying maybe some of the ordinance, putting more stuff up on line, i think that maybe the task force would benefit from a public relations campaign of sorts. that's something i could probably help with. >> okay, thank you. >> thanks. >> let's see. next up is lee anthony hepner. >> hello. >> good afternoon. my name is lee hepner ~. thanks for the opportunity to speak before you today.